Mahendra Singh Dhoni has grown a reputation as a notorious hoarder of souvenir stumps and considering India’s imperious form going into the World Twenty20, few would be surprised if he adds one more to his formidable collection on April 3.
After all, inaugural champions India go into the sixth edition of the tournament as the top-ranked team in the world, having won 10 of their 11 matches this year.
India started off the year blanking Australia in a three-match series before following that up with an Asia Cup triumph in Bangladesh.
Seeking to ride that momentum all the way to a second World Twenty20 title, India’s most successful captain has the comfort of being able to take on the challenge on
The flip side of India’s home advantage is the burden of expectations from an unforgiving 1.2 billion cricket fans but Dhoni has not earned his “Captain Cool” moniker for nothing.
Five years after calmly hitting a six to seal India’s 50-over World Cup triumph on a humid April night in Mumbai, Dhoni, who plays only shorter formats, seems to have all the necessary resources to triumph once more in the final phase of his career.
Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have forged a potent right-left combination at the top followed by batting mainstay Virat Kohli, all three capable of winning matches single-handedly.
In Suresh Raina and Dhoni, India are lucky to have two batsmen who can effortlessly shift gears, while all-rounder Hardik Pandya can also bash a few out of the ground.
YORKERS AT WILL
Much to Dhoni’s relief, the team seemed to have finally fixed their death bowling issue.
In Jasprit Bumrah, India have discovered a bowler who can bowl yorkers almost at will, a virtue not really common in India. Even better, those are hurled with an unorthodox action which makes it even more difficult to pick them.
“The good thing with Bumrah is he technically has bit of pace,” Dhoni said.
“He does not have a normal action, so batsman also takes time to get used to it. At the same time, his execution of yorkers is also very good.”
Ravichandran Ashwin’s cunning and control — best combined in the ‘carrom ball’ that he flicks with his finger — has troubled the best in the business and the off-
spinner will be a dangerous weapon in familiar conditions.
Apart from the fitness concerns around paceman Mohammed Shami, the team seem to have no real worries and Dhoni already has set his eyes on collecting more memorabilia.
“It would be great. I have to do my post-cricket plans you see,” he said at a recent promotional event.
“I don’t mark the stumps that I collect. (Post-retirement) I’d watch the matches, look at the stumps and say ‘ok, this is from that match’. I have enough to keep me occupied for years.”